Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate the ABS website
ABS Home > Statistics > By Release Date
3307.0.55.001 - Divorces, Australia, 2004  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/11/2005   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product

NOTES


ABOUT THIS PUBLICATION

This electronic product, Divorces, Australia (cat. no. 3307.0.55.001) provides information on divorces granted in Australia in 2004. Key indicators of national and state divorces are included in the analytical commentary below. Detailed divorce tables are available for purchase in a data cube. The 2004 data cube can be accessed through the link at the bottom of this page. A glossary of terms and explanatory notes can be accessed using the links provided on this page.


Information on divorces from 2003 onwards is available in the electronic product, Divorces, Australia (cat. no. 3307.0.55.001), free on the ABS website. Information on divorces for years prior to 2003 is available in the hardcopy publication Marriages and Divorces, Australia (cat. no 3310.0), on request. Contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 for further information.



UNAVAILABILITY OF DATA

Post 2001 Estimated Resident Population (ERP) by marital status is not yet available. Therefore in Table 3, 2001 data is the latest available year.



ERP DATA

The ERP at 30 June 2001 and for previous years used in the calculation of crude and age-specific divorce rates in this product is final. ERP at 30 June 2003 is revised and estimates for 2004 are preliminary (see the Explanatory Notes for information about preliminary, revised and final ERP).



STATE AND TERRITORY DATA

Divorce statistics are based upon the state in which the divorces are granted, rather than the state of usual residence of the applicants (except for years 1993 and 1994).


In 2004, the Brisbane Federal Magistrates Court (FMC) in Queensland also completed cases from applications of usual residents of Northern NSW. This had also occurred in 2001, but in 2002 and 2003 the cases were processed through the Newcastle FMC, NSW. Similarly, the ACT Family Court hears cases from much of south-eastern NSW and part of Victoria. Divorces of usual residents in 'Other Territories' are registered in the nearest state or territory (eg divorces for usual residents of Jervis Bay are included in NSW registrations).


These factors can impact on the interpretation of state and territory data. Divorce rates are calculated using the number of divorces granted in a state or territory divided by the estimated residential population of that state or territory. Therefore, they do not accurately reflect the crude divorce rate or the age specific divorce rates of the usual residents of that state or territory, particularly in the states and territories identified above. As a result, this publication does not contain any state or territory crude divorce rates or age specific divorce rates.


The ABS advises caution in the interpretation of data at a state or territory level (See paragraph 13 of the explanatory notes for more information).



CHANGES IN THIS ISSUE

There are no significant changes to this issue from previous issues.



INQUIRIES

For further information about these and related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.



SUMMARY COMMENTARY


DIVORCES GRANTED

There were 52,747 divorces granted in Australia in 2004, representing a decrease of 0.7% or 398, compared with divorces granted in 2003 (53,145). The number of divorces continues to decline for the third consecutive year, after a record high of 55,330 divorces granted in 2001.


Divorces in 2004 represented an increase of 9.2% on the number granted in 1994 (48,312) and 22.3% on the number granted in 1984 (43,124).


Of all Australian states and territories in 2004, the highest number of divorces were granted in New South Wales (15,007), followed by Queensland (13,279) and Victoria (12,544).

Divorces granted, Australia
Graph: Divorces granted, Australia




DIVORCE RATES

The crude divorce rate (the number of divorces per 1,000 population) has decreased slightly in the last 20 years. In 2004, the crude divorce rate was 2.6 per 1,000 population, compared to 2.7 per 1,000 population in 2003 and 2.8 per 1,000 population in 1984.


The latest available divorce rates based on the married population are for 2001. The divorce rate of the married population in 2001 was 13.1 per 1,000 married males or females. This represents an increase from 11.9 per 1,000 married males and 12.0 per 1,000 married females in 2000 and an increase from 11.6 per 1,000 married males and 11.5 per 1,000 married females in 1991 (See paragraph 18 of the Explanatory Notes for more detail).



LIKELIHOOD TO DIVORCE

A net nuptiality table allows the calculation of marital events for future populations based upon current age-patterns of mortality, marriage, divorce, widowhood, and remarriage. (See Glossary for more details.)


Analysis of the most available trends shows that the expectation of divorce is increasing. If a newly-born group of babies was exposed to 1997-1999 rates of marriage, widowhood, divorce, remarriage and mortality, 32% of their marriages would end in divorce. This is an increase on the proportion expected if 1990-1992 rates were applied (29%) and if 1985-1987 rates were applied (28%).


For further information on likelihood to divorce see the Special Article 'Lifetime Marriage Formation and Marriage Dissolution in Australia' p.84 of Marriages and Divorces, Australia, 2000 (cat. no. 3310.0).



AGE AT DIVORCE

The median age at divorce continued to increase in 2004, in line with a long term trend. The median age of males at divorce was 43.0 years, up from 42.6 years in 2003. In 1994, the median age of divorce was 39.7 years for males and in 1984 it was 36.7 years.


Similarly, for females, the median age at divorce for 2004 increased to 40.3 years from 39.9 years in 2003. The comparative median ages for females at divorce for 1994 and 1984 were 36.8 years and 34.1 years respectively.


For both males and females the state or territory with the oldest median age at divorce for 2004 was Tasmania (44.1 years for males and 41.6 years for females).


In 2004, the state or territory with the youngest median age at divorce for males was New South Wales (42.3 years) while for females it was the Northern Territory (39.3 years).


The rise in the median age at divorce is associated with increasing age at first marriage and the increase in the interval between marriage and divorce. The median age at first marriage for males was 29.4 years in 2004, up from 29.2 years in 2003 and 27.2 years in 1994. For females, the median age at first marriage was 27.5 years in 2004, up from 27.3 years in 2003 and 25.1 years in 1994.


In 2004, the state or territory with the youngest median age at first marriage was the Australian Capital Territory for males (29.3 years) and Queensland for females (27.5 years). The state and territory with the oldest median age at first marriage was the Northern Territory for males (30.5 years) and Victoria for females (28.4 years). More information about marriage statistics can be found in Marriages, Australia, 2003 (cat. no. 3306.0.55.001).

Median age at divorce, Australia
Graph: Median age at divorce, Australia




RELATIVE AGE OF DIVORCING PARTIES

In 2004, 10.2% of divorcing couples were of the same age, 68.7% involved a younger wife and 20.0% involved a younger husband. Of all divorcing couples, 32.7% were aged 1-2 years apart, a further 22.0% 3-4 years apart, and 23.7% were aged 5-9 years apart. Couples with an age difference of 10 years or more accounted for 10.3% of divorcing couples.


The bigger the age difference of the divorcing couple, the more likely the divorcing husband was to be older than the wife. In 2004, for divorcing couples with an age difference of 1-2 years, 69.3% had an older husband. For divorcing couples with an age difference of 10 years or more, 87.9% had an older husband.


The relative age of divorcing parties in 2004 reflects the age-structure of marriages and does not imply likelihood to divorce. For example 68.7% of divorces involved a younger wife. This is consistent with marriages statistics that indicate that bridegrooms are traditionally older than brides.


Median age at first marriage is indicative of this trend. In at least the last 20 years, the median age of males at first marriage has consistently been between 1.7 years and 2.2 years higher than females. The difference between the relative age of divorcing parties has been between 2.7 and 2.9 years over the same period

Median age at first marriage, Australia
Graph: Median age at first marriage, Australia




AGE-SPECIFIC DIVORCE RATES

Males aged 35-39 years experienced the highest divorce rate in 2004 (12.6 per 1,000 males aged 35-39). This was followed by males aged 40-44 (12.3 per 1,000 males aged 40-44) and 45-49 years (11.6 per 1,000 males aged 45-49) who also experienced the highest rates in 2003 and 2002. In 2003 the crude divorce rates for males aged 35-39, 40-44 and 45-49 years were 12.6, 12.6 and 11.7 per 1,000 respectively.


In 2004, females aged 35-39 years experienced the highest divorce rate (13.0 per 1,000 females aged 35-39). This was followed by the age groups 30-34 and 40-44 years with rates of 12.5 per 1,000 and 12.2 per 1,000 respectively. In 2003, the comparative divorce rates were 13.1 per 1,000 for females aged 30-34 and 35-39 years, and 12.3 per 1,000 for females aged 40-44 years.



DURATION OF MARRIAGE FOR DIVORCING COUPLES

The median duration of marriage to both separation and divorce is increasing over time. The median duration of marriage to separation has remained the same from 2003 to 2004 at 8.7 years, however it had risen from 7.6 years in 1994. The median duration of marriage to divorce in 2004 was 12.3 years, compared with 12.2 years in 2003 and 10.9 years in 1994.


The difference between the median duration of marriage to separation and median duration of marriage to divorce is also increasing. In 1994 the difference was 3.3 years; in 2004 it was 3.6 years.


In 2004, 5.7% of divorces involved separation within the first year of marriage, 32.8% within the first five years and a further 21.9% of divorcing couples separated within five to nine years of marriage. In 2004, 45.2% of divorcing couples separated after 10 years of marriage.


Of the divorcing couples in 2004, 16.0% were married less than five years, 24.8% between five and nine years and 59.1% were married for 10 years or more. In 2004, 15.7% couples who divorced had been married for 25 years or more.


The shortest median durations of marriage to separation and marriage to divorce occurred in divorces granted in New South Wales (7.6 years and 11.2 years respectively). The longest median durations occurred in divorces granted in Tasmania (10.6 years and 14.1 years).

Median duration to separation and divorce, Australia
Graph: Median duration to separation and divorce, Australia




APPLICANT FOR DIVORCE

As in previous years, more females (41.0%) than males (31.0%) lodged applications for divorce in 2004. Over time there has been an increase in the number of joint applications for divorce. In 2004, 28.0% of divorces were the result of joint applications, up from 24.5% in 2003, 15.0% in 1994 and less than 0.4% in 1984.


The median duration of marriage to divorce was shorter for joint applicants (11.5 years) and female applicants (11.7 years) than for male applicants (14.2 years).


There was a wide difference in joint applications as a proportion of all divorces, within state and territories. Divorces granted in the Australian Capital Territory contained the highest proportion of joint applications (38.3% of applicants) while the lowest proportion was for divorces granted in Tasmania (23.5% of applicants).



DIVORCES INVOLVING CHILDREN

Over the last 10 years, the proportion of divorces involving children under 18 years has decreased marginally from 52.4% in 1994 to 49.8% in 2004. The number of children involved in divorce in 2004 (49,260) was down 1.2% compared with 2003 (49,850) and up 3.6% compared with 1994 (47,537).


Of divorces involving children aged below 18 in 2004, the age of the youngest child was less than 5 years for 24.9% of divorces, 5 to 9 years for 36.1% and above 10 years for 38.9%.


In 2004, the state or territory with the highest proportion of divorces involving children was Queensland (52.9%), followed by Tasmania (52.1%) and South Australia (51.8%). The state or territory with the lowest proportion of divorces involving children was the Australian Capital Territory with 45.6%.



COUNTRY OF BIRTH OF DIVORCING PARTIES

In 2004, 58.3% of divorces granted were to couples who were both born in Australia. Divorces to couples born in the same overseas country accounted for 13.1% of divorces granted in 2004. Divorces granted to couples who were born in different countries accounted for 27.3% of total divorces.


Of those couples who had chosen a partner from a different country, 43.8% (6,230) were overseas-born males divorcing Australian-born females, and 35.5% (5,075) were overseas-born females divorcing Australian-born males.


For divorces granted in 2004, the most common countries of birth other than Australia, for both husbands and wives were the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Viet Nam and China. These birth places accounted for 46.9% of overseas born husbands and 45.9% of overseas born wives who were granted a divorce in 2004.


These data are relatively consistent with the most common places of birth of Australian residents. United Kingdom, New Zealand, Viet Nam and China were ranked first, second, fifth and sixth in terms of overseas born populations resident in Australia in 2001.

SELECTED DIVORCE INDICATORS, Australia - Selected years from 1984 to 2004

1984
1994
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004

ALL DIVORCES

Divorces granted (no.)
43 124
48 312
52 566
49 906
55 330
54 004
53 145
52 747
Crude divorce rate(a) (rate)
2.8
2.7
2.8
2.6
2.9
2.7
2.7
2.6
Median duration of marriage
To separation (years)
7.7
7.6
7.9
8.2
8.3
8.6
8.7
8.7
To divorce (years)
10.6
10.9
11.3
11.6
11.8
12.0
12.2
12.3
Divorces involving children(b)
Divorces (no.)
26 274
25 316
28 331
26 295
28 345
26 820
26 637
26 289
Proportion of all divorces (%)
60.9
52.4
53.9
52.7
51.2
49.7
50.1
49.8
Number of children (no.)
50 713
47 537
53 444
49 612
53 396
50 509
49 850
46 260
Average number of children per divorce (no.)
1.9
1.9
1.9
1.9
1.9
1.9
1.9
1.9
Relative birthplace of parties(c)
Both born in Australia (no.)
26 519
27 090
30 494
28 728
32 139
na
30 674
30 729
Both born overseas (no.)
4 810
6 056
6 793
6 541
7 235
na
7 055
6 904
Born in different countries (no.)
11 523
14 904
14 986
14 246
15 433
na
14 223
14 375
Applicant
Husband (no.)
17 689
17 350
16 235
15 348
16 608
16 114
17 229
16 365
Wife (no.)
25 246
23 739
26 353
24 595
26 035
24 049
22 870
21 614
Joint (no.)
189
7 223
9 978
9 963
12 687
13 841
13 046
14 768

HUSBAND

Age-specific divorce rates(d)
Age group (years)
24 and under (rate)
1.8
0.8
0.6
0.5
0.5
0.4
0.4
0.4
25-29 (rate)
11.6
8.0
6.8
5.8
6.2
5.5
5.3
4.9
30-34 (rate)
14.7
12.7
12.9
11.6
12.4
11.5
10.8
10.2
35-39 (rate)
14.0
13.1
13.3
12.7
13.6
13.1
12.6
12.6
40-44 (rate)
12.2
12.5
12.8
12.1
13.3
13.2
12.6
12.3
45-49 (rate)
9.9
11.0
11.2
10.9
12.1
12.1
11.7
11.6
50-54 (rate)
7.0
8.5
9.1
8.9
9.9
9.5
9.5
9.6
55-59 (rate)
5.0
5.5
6.3
5.9
6.8
6.9
7.1
6.9
60-64 (rate)
3.0
3.3
3.9
3.7
4.4
4.2
4.3
4.5
65 and over (rate)
1.2
1.3
1.4
1.4
1.5
1.5
1.5
1.6
Median age of husband
At marriage (years)
23.9
25.4
26.2
26.4
26.5
26.7
26.9
27.1
At separation (years)
34.1
36.6
37.6
38.1
38.4
38.9
39.2
39.5
At divorce (years)
36.7
39.7
40.9
41.4
41.8
42.2
42.6
43.0

WIFE

Age-specific divorce rates(d)
Age group (years)
24 and under (rate)
3.9
2.0
1.4
1.2
1.3
1.2
1.1
1.0
25-29 (rate)
15.0
12.0
10.9
9.6
10.0
8.9
8.5
8.0
30-34 (rate)
14.5
13.7
14.1
13.3
14.4
13.7
13.1
12.5
35-39 (rate)
13.2
13.0
13.7
12.6
13.9
13.6
13.1
13.0
40-44 (rate)
11.3
11.7
12.2
11.5
12.8
12.7
12.3
12.2
45-49 (rate)
8.2
9.4
9.8
9.5
10.6
10.4
10.5
10.5
50-54 (rate)
5.0
6.3
6.7
6.7
7.4
7.3
7.3
7.6
55-59 (rate)
3.1
3.3
4.1
3.9
4.7
4.6
4.7
4.7
60-64 (rate)
1.8
1.8
2.2
2.2
2.5
2.6
2.8
2.9
65 and over (rate)
0.5
0.4
0.5
1.5
0.6
0.6
0.6
0.6
Median age of wife
At marriage (years)
21.3
22.8
23.7
23.8
24.0
24.2
24.4
24.6
At separation (years)
31.3
33.8
34.9
35.3
35.7
36.2
36.4
36.8
At divorce (years)
34.1
36.8
38.2
38.6
39.1
39.5
39.9
40.3

(a) Per 1,000 estimated resident population.
(b) Unmarried children of the marriage, aged under 18 years, see Glossary.
(c) Excludes divorces where country of birth of one or both partners is not stated. Country of birth not available for 2002 - see paragraph 11 of Explanatory Notes for more detail.
(d) Per 1,000 estimated resident males or females. Males under 18 years and females under 16 years are excluded from the population.

SELECTED DIVORCE INDICATORS, States and territories - 2004

NSW
Vic.
Qld
SA
WA
Tas.
NT
ACT(a)
Aust.

Divorces granted (no.)
15 007
12 544
13 279
4 147
4 337
1 404
434
1 595
52 747
Median duration of marriage
To separation (years)
7.6
8.8
9.1
10.0
9.1
10.6
8.0
9.7
8.7
To divorce (years)
11.2
12.4
12.8
13.6
12.8
14.1
11.8
13.1
12.3
Divorces involving children(b)
Divorces (no.)
7 015
6 253
7 037
2 147
2 159
732
218
728
26 289
Proportion of all divorces (%)
46.7
49.8
53.0
51.8
49.8
52.1
50.2
45.6
49.8
Number of children (no.)
12 842
11 674
13 467
4 004
4 049
1 408
409
1 407
49 260
Average number of children per divorce (no.)
1.8
1.9
1.9
1.9
1.9
1.9
1.9
1.9
1.9
Applicant
Husband (no.)
4 489
4 028
4 304
1 196
1 340
449
144
415
16 365
Wife (no.)
5 870
5 284
5 686
1 818
1 622
625
140
569
21 614
Joint (no.)
4 648
3 232
3 289
1 133
1 375
330
150
611
14 768
Median age of husband
At marriage (years)
27.5
27.0
27.0
26.7
27.2
26.9
27.4
26.8
27.1
At separation (years)
38.9
39.5
39.7
40.1
39.9
40.5
38.9
39.7
39.5
At divorce (years)
42.3
42.9
43.5
43.6
43.6
44.1
42.6
43.4
43.0
Median age of wife
At marriage (years)
24.9
24.7
24.5
24.1
24.6
24.2
24.9
24.4
24.6
At separation (years)
36.0
36.9
37.0
37.6
37.3
37.8
36.1
37.0
36.8
At divorce (years)
39.4
40.3
40.7
41.0
41.1
41.6
39.3
40.6
40.3

(a) Due to the large number of divorces granted in the ACT to persons usually resident in another state, numbers shown for the ACT are not representative of divorce in the ACT population.
(b) Unmarried children of the marriage, aged under 18 years, see Glossary.

Bookmark and Share. Opens in a new window

Commonwealth of Australia 2014

Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.